Need to  orient educational system to deal with animals


Maneka Gandhi

Maneka GandhiAs the number of people in the world swell to 8 billion , the jobs are shrinking just as fast. Every ten minutes 2,500 people lose their jobs. The chances of children born today getting employment are very bleak. Every government has to grapple with this problem. In order to prove that the jobs exist but there are no people to fill them we keep inventing higher and higher degrees that they need to have - first it was a BA, then MA , then B Ed, then Phd, now it is MBA. However no matter what the degree level is , it is largely irrelevant because the basic education offering of our colleges have not changed in 50 years except to add  Information Technology and Astrology. Arts has History/Geography/Literature/Sociology and Political Science etc and Sciences has Physics, Chemistry/Biology and that completely useless subject Zoology. Most of these subjects create teachers to teach these subjects.

But the needs of India have changed. The path of the economy has changed, the number of poeple have increased a hundred times, the land holdings have dwindled, our farmers have exhausted the green revolution and bled it white, pesticides have killed off most of the productivity, thousands of species of animal and plant have disappeared making life much difficult, water has disappeared , the weather is far more variable, the attitude of the village is no longer that of bucolic has to be changed to deal with all these new problems, new desires. We have the largest number of schools in the world - how many people have benefitted from them ? We need to teach new subjects - if not at the school then at the college level.

I marvel that a country that is totally dependant on animals and which could live in royal splendour if we realised how to work with them has no educational systems to train people to deal with them. Here are some facts

      31   Veterinary Colleges. Main education : insemination of cattle. Syllabus updated: 1930.

     No municipal plans to deal with animals. No foresters trained in tree identification or planting only in cutting forests down. The entire forest department gets les than 0.5% of the national budget.

No wildlife doctors in India. No zoo cadre. No bird doctors. No monkey experts. No deer or elephant experts. No tiger doctors. No scholarships to study abroad to specialise in needed subjects. No insurance schemes for animals. No consideration of their role in the economy as transporters and fuel savers, pesticide and fertiliser providers or even garbage cleaners.

No slaughterhouse management

No design of yokes.

No animal carts designed with load bearing systems. 40% of bullocks die of neck cancer in 3 years

No rethinking on pesticides and correlating them with the money that is spent in hospitals.

No evaluation of cancers caused by meat eating inspite of hundreds of studies of Indian origin

No enforcement of laws on situating meatshops or licencing them. No of illegal meat shops in Delhi alone : 11,000

No economic evaluation of the leather and meat export industry and its correlation with the money spent on cleaning rivers and replanting areas denuded by goats.

No veterinary centres in the district. No veterinary doctors. This inspite of the fact that 70% of all rural bankruptcy is caused by the death of an animal for which the loan has been taken.

No green economic plan which puts a cost on each animal's services.

No evaluation of what tourists come to India to see and a building up of those resources. Instead all the money is put into hotels.

No evaluation of waterbodies

No laws to protect animals of any consequence

No training on how to catch a single animal or even to use anesthesia

No education , no specialist training , nothing. So then how do you solve the problems of nilgais, monkeys, panthers and dogs : by killing. You kill and kill till the animal is almost extinct - as in the case of the  panther - and then you spend all your money in rebreeding them. This is what has happened to the vulture whose disappearance has resulted in crores now having to be put into village cleaning of carcasses.

How do you deal with the disappearance of trees that are only spread by birds who have now become almost extinct ? How do you treat horses so that they live longer and transport more people ? Why should India use all her fertile land in Madhya Pradesh to grow soyabeans to feed Europe's animals ? Where should the offal from the slaughterhouses be dumped ? In the freshwater lakes as Al Kabeer does in Patancheru ? In the Jamuna - as Idgah does in Delhi ? In the Ganga - as Kanpur does ?

How do you create new technologies - alternative leather , as China has done . How you teach women to cook with gobar and not choke on the methane fumes - because there is no way that India's villages will ever depend on gas.
 We need a generation of trained professionals who will gradually move into all the spheres of India's policy making and make India's governance pro farmer, pro poor, pro health - and all these depends on people realising and dealing with our dependence on animals.

Which is why I designed and built a university for animal welfare and related subjects in Faruidabad in 2002 . The building is spread on 8 acres in Faridabad and the staffing permission was given government approval . In the beginning the staff was to come from abroad – and top professors of Oxford, Cambridge and Yale had agreed. UNEP had given a library grant. 43 courses of animal management had been designed. Deemed University permission was on the anvil.

These are the subjects that were to be taught: Biology, chemistry, physiology, anatomy etc, ecology and conservation, animal nutrition and laws, animal nursing, animal economic, housing, city animal management, water and forest management, commercial factory, slaughterhouse ,zoo  and laboratory management, rebreeding, aquatic management, engineering and new technologies, organic farming, bird care, monkey, elephant, snake , small animal and livestock management, veterinary pharmacy and drug dispensation etc.

The BA was to take 4 years but there are courses for 1 and 2 years as well. Apart from that there are short courses for police, municipal officials etc.

The University called NIAW ( National Institute for Animal Welfare ) would have  changed hundreds of attitudes. Once upon a time the law colleges in India were not only bad but law courses were taken very lightly. Once the Bangalore Law School came up it became a benchmark and every Law College or Law Department immediately pulled up its socks. This is what I expected to happen with veterinary colleges to begin with.

How would these graduates get jobs ? How will they not ?  City management, wildlife, laboratories, hospitals, shelters, NGOs, slaughterhouses, zoos, veterinary centres, municipalities, industry....... not to mention the hundreds of consultancies all over the world.

62 universities in the world are running courses on animal welfare . Each one of them was contacted and they were delighted and happy to help. Many people had already started to try and get international funding so that they can come and teach here till our own staff was trained. Books for the course ? The Education Ministry has already put a team from its EDCIL to design all the course books.

If this had come up everyone who wants to go into animal welfare could get a proper degree. There are thousands of jobs in each sector that need this kind of trained person.

However I was removed from my job in 2002. The NIAW was handed over to the Environment Ministry and  put into cold storage for 3 years by the NDA government. Then Amity and other large universities offered to take it over and in order to avoid giving it, the Ministry for Environment started TWO DAY courses for government officials on “ compassion”. This was expanded to three days on animal laws – to teach the lowest rung of officials in ministries like steel and coal. Now they have held , in 6 years , 40 such nonsensical programmes and the magnificent structure is beginning to come apart for lack of maintenance. There is no staff, these “ courses” have been taught by joint secretaries in the ministry who know as much about animal welfare and laws as I do about triple theorems. The money allocated for this educational institution is returned to the general budget every year. Every appeal of mine to hand it over even to their own Animal Welfare Board of India so that they can turn it into a centre of learning falls on deaf ears.

How many other wonderful opportunities do governments simply lay waste to because our bureaucrats are so greedy , lazy and averse to new ideas that might help India.  In these last 6 years we would have , by now , turned out specialists that would have been able to save tigers, butterflies and the rest of India.


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